Tuesday, April 29, 2014

the best easter ever.

This post was meant to be published last week, but things have been a bit busy. There's good reason I have been absent from the blog world, and I'm about to tell you why. As of Easter Sunday, I am now...


I am super excited to spend my life with my fiancee (still feels a little weird to say that) Tyler. He is the sweetest, most encouraging man I have ever known. He somehow puts up with my ridiculous, emotional self, and that in itself is pretty amazing. :) 
I know you're dying to see pictures so here are a few:

{Here's the story:}

{Well, a little backstory first - Tyler works offshore in the oilfield, and lives in Florida. I live in the Charlotte area of NC, and my parents live in the Raleigh area. Tyler's schedule is 3 weeks on/3 weeks off. We are long-distance right now, and usually see each other when he comes back onshore after each hitch. So it's not unusual for us to go a month without seeing each other.}

Anyways, the plan was for Tyler to drive up from Florida early Saturday morning, and get to my parent's house sometime Saturday night to spend Easter with me and my family. Well, he decided to surprise me and drove through the night on Friday night and got to my parent's house where I was staying on Saturday morning. I actually kind of unintentionally ruined that surprise because I had just woken up from a dream when I heard a car door slam, so I looked out the window and saw his truck. haha My Dad and him were talking, and I decided to just stay in bed for a little longer because I didn't want to ruin any plans or anything. A few minutes later, Tyler came in to wake me up, and it was so sweet. :)
Saturday we hung out with my family, and visited my older brother Nate, and his wife Rachel in Greensboro.

Sunday it was just Tyler, me, my Mom and Dad for church in the morning. We took a few pictures after church, then headed home for lunch. I went into my bedroom for something, and came out and my Mom said, "It's going to be about an hour before lunch is ready, why don't you show Tyler around Garner?" I love Garner because that's where I grew up, but there is not much there (aside from our famous White Deer haha). I was like, okay...sure we can do that (I had no idea what to show Tyler). Then my Mom said I should bring him to Lake Benson. Tyler was like, sure let's go there. My family was acting a little suspicious all weekend, and I thought something might be up, but that's when I was about 90% sure he was going to propose that day. :) I started getting a little nervous, and I was hungry. So I ate a Reeses egg on the way to the park. I didn't want to get hangry, after all (I offered Tyler one, but he said his stomach was bothering him - now I know why!). Anyways, so Tyler and I get in his truck and we make our way to the park. He grabs a wrapped present from the back of his truck, and we start walking towards the lake. We're just talking about silly stuff, and Tyler is talking about dwarves or wizards under bridges. I kid you not. haha I think he was a tad nervous. ;) 

We find this little spot that some people had just left that overlooked the lake, and we sat down on some tree roots by the edge of the water. Soon after we sat down, Tyler hands me the wrapped present and says, "This is your last birthday present. Do you want to open it now?" "Yes!" (I love presents). Well, I start unwrapping it, and it is a gorgeous woodburned plaque he made that said "Leah Will You Marry Me?". Pretty much all I saw was "Marry Me?" and I started crying! Happy tears, and shock, and excitement, all at once. Years of frustrations and conversations about my desire to be married, and thinking I'd never get married, all found that hope and special gift in that moment. God provided a wonderful man for me to love, and be loved by. I was just holding my hand over my mouth in shock, and finally started shaking my head yes, yes, yes, and finally found the words to say "Yes". I held out my hand, and Tyler put the most beautiful ring on my finger. We kissed, and it was just such a special moment, just the two of us, and I loved that. We sat there, just hugging, and enjoying the moment. I think we just kept saying to each other, "We're getting married!!" haha :) It was simple, and sweet, and thoughtful. And I love the plaque he made me, to show me his creativity, and it's something we'll always treasure and can think back on. He worked so hard on it, and I loved that. It means a lot to me. 

So, after that we headed back to my parent's house, and the day was filled with squeals, excitement, hugs, phone calls and all that good stuff. I was so so glad that Tyler chose that weekend when I could be surrounded by my family. It was really special to have that. :)

So, that is my big news for now, and wanted to share it with everyone. 

I am blogged out after that novel, so I hope everyone has a fantastic Tuesday!! And don't forget to enter the Good for the Soul giveaway mentioned in yesterday's post here

Monday, April 28, 2014

happy Monday + Good for the Soul giveaway

Happy Monday Y'all! 

I have been MIA from the blog world for over a week, but there is good explanation!! :) I have not had much time to just schmowze around on the computer, but my goal tonight is to finish a post I started a few days ago, and let you guys know what's been going on in my world. :)

A few weeks ago, Rachel over at Oh Simple Thoughts approached me about participating in a giveaway with her and a few other hosts, and I was happy to jump on the chance! She is giving away 3 books (haven't read them yet, but have heard they are amazing), a gorgeous print, and a Starbucks gift card (who doesn't love a nice cup of coffee or tea?!).

So, enter below, and I hope you win!! :)

 Meet your co-hosts:

The winner of the giveaway will be announced Monday, May 5th. All entries will be verified, so make sure to play fair! :) Good Luck!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

goodwill finds + inspiration

Thanks to some fellow artists I follow on Instagram, I have been inspired lately to do a major cleaning and reorganization of my jewelry-making workspace {read that as "small folding table in the corner of my bedroom" - hey, baby steps}.

{inspiration. image source: pinterest}

I had been struggling with what to put above my jewelry table that would be inspiring + functional. At one point I had a picture frame that I had once used as a display at a craft show, and then I had makeshift miniature bulletin boards. Oh man - they were hideous. haha Let me explain: I have a soft spot in my heart for clearance items. Something about saving money makes me want to do cartwheels. I also have a soft spot for buying clearance items I don't actually need or supplies I don't end up using but look cool in the fabulous fluorescent lights of AC Moore/Michael's. So, once upon a time, I bought a roll of cork at AC Moore. I thought, I can make my own bulletin board and save money, woohoo! Well, the cork was crumbly, would not lay flat to save it's life, and just was a waste of effort. I cut it and put it in random empty frames I had, and it just looked sad. So I finally gave up that idea, got rid of the frames and the cork. My next installment was fun pictures and prints I just taped with washi tape above my table. 

I think it is so important for artists to visually see inspiration while they work, to refresh and reset your mind on your ideas, to help you focus, to get outside your own head sometimes. Jessi from naptimediaries just posted about inspiration and I loved this quote from her:
"Seek inspiration outside your field to dig deep and avoid accidental copying."

So, I knew I wanted some sort of inspiration board to put up quotes, pictures, things torn out of magazines that lit my creative spark. 
Well, I finally realized I just needed a good, old fashioned bulletin board. Already made (haha). 

Sunday afternoon I went to Goodwill with the purpose of looking for a white shirt (negative), jean shorts (negative), and a bulletin board. I was walking over to where the picture frames are, and lo and behold, out from the backroom a Goodwill employee comes carrying a bulletin board. You better believe I snatched that baby up! I think it was a small God thing, looking out for me in the littlest way. :) It was $4 and in good condition. I knew I wanted to spruce it up a little, so I just painted the wood trim with 2 coats of some yellow paint I already owned. 

Voila! Here it is, painted and hanging in my "studio". :) 

{magazine cutouts, photo of my boyfriend+i, small painting from a boy i babysit, a postcard of the amazing artist thornton dial who i met, etc.}

{my friend made the piece in the frame - it says "do what you love, love what you do"}

{see that amazing wooden type drawer on the floor filled with beads? another great $5 goodwill find!}

Want to see a few more home studios/workspaces that inspire me? Click here to go to my Pinterest board. For the day I have a whole room dedicated to my art. :)

What are some ways you gather inspiration for your hobby/artwork? Taking walks, hashing out ideas over coffee dates, using inspiration boards, Pinterest? I'd love to hear from y'all! :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

a taste of spring

Here are a few goodies I've made last week and this week for spring/summer. 

I've been playing around with the turquoise + coral/tangerine combo and I love it! I love turquoise all year around, but it especially looks great in spring and summer for that pop of color. Pair these with a striped tee or a flowy white blouse.

I've also been playing around with this design. A long chain with a simple, colorful asymmetrical focal point. This would look great layered with other simple necklaces.

The perfect statement necklace! Pair this with a plain white tee, or a coral dress to a spring/summer wedding.

I love this one! Very tribal. Pair with your favorite bohemian flowy dress, or add some sass to a plain tee + jeans outfit.

Pretty little dangles!

Interested in purchasing any of the pieces pictured? Let me know! I haven't put them up on Etsy yet, so y'all are getting sneak peeks! Just leave a comment or email me at ShopHopeCollective@gmail.com if you'd like to buy one (or all! haha). 

Which necklace is your favorite? I'd love to hear from you! :)

{Missed my first "Shops with Heart" post? Read it here.}

Thanks for reading!

{Now you can follow me on Bloglovin'! Click the button in the right sidebar >>>}

Friday, April 4, 2014

shops with heart: hope collective

Happy Friday!!!

Can I just say I am so excited it's Spring? It is so refreshing to see some green sprouting up everywhere, and to see beautiful flowers popping out. There is a purpose to every season, but I am sure glad Winter is over. Spring is by far my favorite season, plus it's the season of my birthday! :) I'll be turning 26 next Tuesday - yay! 

Today I will be starting a series called "Shops with Heart". 

Shops with Heart will be a chance for me to highlight handmade shops I admire, where the passion and creativity is evident in their products. I will also highlight small businesses that give back to others in some way.

///Shops with Heart: Hope Collective///

I'm going to start off this series with my own shop Hope Collective. This may seem a tad conceited, but I wanted to give y'all some more photos of products I've made since I haven't shown a whole lot yet. I sell "handcrafted goods for you and your home." I will do a separate post about the organization I will be donating a portion of every purchase to, but let me just go ahead and tell y'all, they are awesome
Since the past few posts have been so word-heavy, just enjoy this eye-candy on this beautiful Friday! :)

1. This week's creation. 

2. Milky Aqua and White Simple Beaded Necklace // Minimalist Spring Necklace 

3. Silver Drusy Hoops

4. African Dreams Earrings

5. This one sold, but I love it, so I wanted to share --- Mumford & Sons Embroidery Hoop Art
{you can find more of my hoop art here}

Beauty and the Bullet // Turquoise Arrow Bead with Brass Beads and Brass Bullet Shell Long Necklace

What are some of your favorite "Shops with Heart"? Let me know, and if it sparks my interest and lines up with my vision for this series, I may highlight it in the coming weeks!

Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

coffee dates + struggles + hope

Today I'm linking up with Rachel over at Oh, Simple Thoughts for a Coffee Date!

If you read my first post here, then you know I love coffee! I love catching up with friends over coffee dates, especially if we can find a cute local coffee shop. {This month, though, I cut out going to coffee shops, so no actual coffee dates for me! I'll be writing a post about that later.} Like Rachel said, I love how friends can open up to each other over a simple cup of coffee. I've had some of the best conversations over a simple cup of joe, and it's exciting to hear how God is working in our friends lives, and then oftentimes, their reactions show me how exciting God's work is in my own life. It can be so easy to see the good going on in other people's lives, and we often forget what God has done for us in our own.

So here I sit with my travel mug full {reheated from earlier, not ideal}, and I want to share some of what's been on my heart lately...

Y'all --- the blog world is overwhelming. I enjoy writing, and I love getting the chance to have this corner of the blog world carved out for myself and Hope Collective, but I start to feel overwhelmed when I see myself at the beginning, and all that there is ahead. I get so easily distracted by all the prettiness too! haha Seriously, though, it's a blessing and a curse. I'm inspired by the beautiful spaces I see, pretty studios, perfect products, but I also get jealous and covetous. Not good, I know. So I want this space to be real --- I want to show the good and the struggles of my life, of my business Hope Collective so that others can see that believers are real people - we still struggle with sins, with ourselves and those around us. We all need God's grace, continuously, second by second.

Another thing I struggle with is my business. I almost feel like I shouldn't even call it a business yet because it is so teeny tiny. I work full-time, so it is super hard to get Hope Collective off the ground. I started this blog to help that a little bit. I get so easily discouraged about the "success" of my business, if it will ever grow, and if I'm making a difference {info on how I plan to give back coming soon}. I cannot tell you how many times I've cried about it {but my Mom and boyfriend probably could, ha!}. But, despite the struggles, annoyances, and competition, I know without a doubt that somehow God is using this/going to use this to help others. I have to trust in His timing {that is so hard}, because it just may not be the right time for my business to take off full-fledged. And that is ok. But, I have learned that it is not ok to give up...

I am learning that we must keep working at it {whatever that is for you} even when we don't see God's hand at work just yet.

I'm learning that I am so, so weak. I have so many doubts about who I am, and what I do. I struggle with guilt and shame. But I am also learning God makes and desires to make all things new! He desires us to lay down our shame and guilt, and embrace His forgiveness and joy. I feel like I'm turning over a new leaf in my life, and I can't quite put my finger on it, but it has a little to do with that - with setting aside shame, guilt and lies, and living in God's promises. We don't have to be perfect, and we never will be - but thank God for His new mercies.

"But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;" {1 Corinthians 1:27}

"Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him." {1 Corinthians 7:17}

"He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again." {2 Corinthians 1:10}

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." {2 Corinthians 12:9}

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." {Philippians 1:6}

{all verses taken from the ESV Bible}

So, if you feel like sharing in the comments, what are some things you're struggling with, and/or are joyful about right now? What encourages you to keep going when it gets tough? 

As always, feel free to email me at ShopHopeCollective@gmail.com.

I'd love to hear from you! :)